Period products are now available for free in Scotland’s public facilities.
The Period Products bill went into effect on Monday, making tampons and sanitary napkins free of charge and accessible in the country’s public facilities. CNN reports that “local authorities and education providers” throughout the country will be responsible “to ensure the products are available free of charge.”
The legislation was introduced into the country’s parliament in 2019 by Monica Lennon, a member of the Labour Party, as a way to reduce period poverty – the lack of access to menstrual products experienced by many individuals. Lawmakers passed the legislation unanimously in November 2020.
In a message on Twitter, Lennon wrote that she was “Proud of what we have achieved in Scotland,” adding, “We are the first but won’t be the last.”
Proud of what we have achieved in Scotland. We are the first but won’t be the last. 🏴🩸🙌#PeriodDignity #FreePeriodProducts #MenstrualJustice follow @Period_Poverty for updates. https://t.co/8bFTML3MkK
— Monica Lennon MSP (@MonicaLennon7) August 15, 2022
Globally, approximately 500 million people live in period poverty, including 16.9 million who live in the U.S, where taxes on period products can range from 4.7 to 10% according to a report by the Journal of Global Health.
The Scottish bill “was about showing, through practical politics, that we can make a difference, and that women, girls, and people who menstruate can feel valued,” Lennon said in an interview with Time Magazine.
CNN reports that in research supporting Lennon’s legislation, approximately 20% of Scottish women are impoverished; that same percentage is expected to make use of the free products.
The Period Products Act also makes use of inclusive language to cover all individuals who menstruate, including women and girls, trans men, and non-binary individuals.
Scotland is the first country to make period products accessible for free. Other countries, including those in the U.K (of which Scotland is a member), Canada, Kenya, and some U.S. states have eliminated the tax on period products.